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Oyster Shell Recycling Program FAQs


  • What is this program?

 Simply put, we collect oyster shells from restaurants--which previously threw them away and then paid someone to take them to landfills--and put that important resource back into the water so they can help new oysters grow.


  • How does that work?

ACF contracts with Hanna E. C. O. Systems to collect shells from restaurants and deliver them to a large property where they are stay outside for six months to cure. The Program has an Advisory Committee (see below) that decides when and where to place the shells. An oyster shell is the preferred habitat of oyster babies (larvae) to settle on as juveniles (spat) to form new reefs. 


  • What benefits do oysters have?

Oyster shells that are collected through this program are going back into Alabama waters to help additional oysters grow. In addition to food value, oysters provide many other important ecosystem services, including:

  • Improving water quality: An adult oyster can filter 15 gallons of water per day.

  • Providing habitat: Oyster reefs provide habitat for fish, shrimp, crabs, birds and other animals.

  • Limiting erosion: Oyster reefs are natural breakwaters that protect shorelines.


  • What is the process of getting the shells back into the water?

Take a look at this video from the Alabama Department of Natural Resources. At 1:18 you will see the video of them getting the shells back into the water.

















  • Is this project funded from the fines or penalties from the BP oil spill?

No. The funding to start this program is from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) as a part of the Gulf Coast Conservation Grants Program (GCCGP). Visit  to learn more about NFWF, the GCCGP and the other programs that are being funded this year.


  • Who is leading the program?

This project is being led by the Alabama Coastal Foundation (ACF) which uses an inclusive environmental stewardship approach. To ensure the success of this project, ACF has created an Advisory Committee. To see the members of the Advisory Committee, please click here to download the list of Advisory Council members.


  • What is the timeline for the program?

ACF took a phased approach to implement the Alabama Oyster Shell Recycling Program. In the fall of 2016, we launched Phase 1 which included the Causeway Route. In the Winter of 2017, ACF started Phase 2 ahead of schedule adding restaurants from Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Now the Program is open to all interested restaurants in coastal Alabama! (See final question below for how to participate.)


  • How do I sign up to volunteer with the Alabama Coastal Foundation? 

        Click here to fill out ACF's volunteer registration form. 


  • What do I need to do to get my favorite restaurant to participate in this program?

Please ask them to contact Mark Berte, ACF's Executive Director, who will send them information about how they can participate: email or call (251) 990-6002.

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